13
votes
2answers
608 views

New World Sickness

When Europeans came to the Americas, they brought with them "Old World diseases" that decimated the Native American population. There's a big list of them here. Were there any "New World" diseases ...
13
votes
4answers
714 views

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Chinese kids the world over are frequently taught that there is "5000 years of Chinese history". What basis is there for this claim?
11
votes
7answers
3k views

Is there a correlation between the colonial power and the stability/success of the post colonial state?

Looking at the history of Ghana relative to many post-colonial African states, it appears to be quite a successful and stable nation-state, both politically and economically, compared to many other ...
10
votes
1answer
558 views

Did the Romans melt down looted golden objects or did they keep them intact?

The most famous such object is, of course, the Menorah which is reported to have surfaced up later in Constantinople via Carthage, so it seems to have been kept intact. But I am wondering if there ...
10
votes
1answer
448 views

When did retailers stop wrapping purchases in paper and twine?

Listening to stories from relatives, it sounds like it was a near-universal practice (in the US, before the 1970s) to wrap retail purchases with brown paper and twine. Searching for information about ...
10
votes
2answers
333 views

Roman navy propelled by animals instead of human rowers?

I have read one brief account of military planning around the time of Roman emperor Constantine the Great (272 – 337) whereby the Roman navy's rowers could have been substituted by animals (source ...
9
votes
1answer
778 views

Why did the Ming Dynasty Treasure Fleet Voyages end?

Have we come to know more reasons, on why the Treasure Fleet Voyages of the Ming Dynasty ceased, other than eunuch-to-civil power shift? Wikipedia says However, in 1433, the voyages ceased and ...
9
votes
4answers
543 views

The practice of translating foreign monarch's or noble's name

In history texts, past foreign monarchs are normally referred to by the English version of their name, e.g. Francis I (not François), Charles V (not Carlos, Karel, or Karl), Phillip II (not Felipe). ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How historically accurate is Les Miserables?

In essence, I'm asking about whether there are any historical inaccuracies in the movies/plays themselves. I'm pretty sure the book would have very few, due to the fact that it was written in a ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

GDP per capita of major combatants before and after WWII?

Perhaps this is difficult to measure and maybe not even a good metric for anything meaningful, but what was the GDP and GDP per capita for nations around the world immediately before World War II? ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

How did Columbus calculate the size of the Earth?

Eratosthenes' calculations of the size of the Earth were very precise and very accepted during Columbus' time. Still, Columbus was convinced that the world was significatively smaller and that getting ...
6
votes
4answers
420 views

Does (or did) any monarchy have a limited length of tenure?

Wikipedia's page about monarchies states that they might have "predetermined limits on the length of their tenure". However reading the page there is no mention about any current monarchy who does ...
6
votes
2answers
531 views

What was the official language used across European monarchies in the XII century?

I have been reading about European history in the XII century and I am finding out that several of the modern day languages hadn't yet evolved to what they are now: Langue d'oïl was still being used ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Can anyone explain why a wreck of a battleship lies in the Nevada desert?

Can anyone explain the reason why a wreck of a battleship lies in the Nevada desert as it is represented in the picture above?
5
votes
1answer
255 views

How did Isaac Newton support himself in the period of self-study that he conducted at 23?(after he received his B.A.)

I quote wiki : Soon after Newton had obtained his B.A. degree in August 1665, the university temporarily closed as a precaution against the Great Plague. Although he had been undistinguished ...
5
votes
2answers
596 views

Was there a constant 'fear of the bomb' in the Soviet Union and America during the Cold War?

Was there a constant 'fear of the bomb' in the Soviet Union and America during the Cold War? Or were there times where there wasn't such a fear? Possibly during the Nixon-Brezhnev détente, or ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How significant was the Fall of Constantinople as an event leading to the Age of Exploration?

I have been hearing that the Fall of Constantinople was the most important event that ultimately led to the Age of Exploration, mainly the discovery of New World and sea route to India by Vasco de ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What evidence support the theory that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in ancient Athens?

While researching the Who first wrote about deafness? question, I came across this bold claim on Wikipedia: Sparta is often portrayed as being unique in this matter, however there is considerable ...
4
votes
1answer
266 views

Was Casablanca a “safe” place for the Allies to hold a global conference in January, 1943?

In January 1943, America's President Roosevelt and Britain's Winston Churchill held a conference in Casablanca, Morocco. Russia's Stalin declined to attend (citing the fighting at Stalingrad). One "...
2
votes
2answers
485 views

How did people categorize each other in the middle ages, how did racism work? [closed]

I'm interested in the european high middle ages, about the 12th-13th century. I'm trying to understand how people sorted each other. Nowadays, some overlapping categories people use would be: ...
39
votes
4answers
7k views

Why are the German and French languages so different?

My understanding (which could be wrong) is the following: During and before the period of the fall of western Rome (roughly 400 AD), the Franks and the Alemanni were tribal people who moved around a ...
77
votes
13answers
25k views

Why didn't Imperial Japan attack the Soviet Union during World War 2?

Japan and the Soviet Union shared a common border in Manchuria and the German invasion of the Soviet Union weakened the Soviets greatly. In view of the advantages to Japan in seeing the Soviet Union ...
64
votes
7answers
18k views

Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

The Strait of Gibraltar, at its narrowest point, is about 14 km wide. Why didn't Germany blockade it during WW2? It seems to me that only a handful of submarines and destroyers could do the job. Wasn'...
44
votes
4answers
8k views

Why didn't Roman emperors have harems?

Harems were common in the Orient; the Chinese emperor, the Ottoman sultan, and the Mongol emperor all had many wives. Roman Emperors did not have a similar custom. Why is the harem common in the ...
23
votes
1answer
12k views

Why did Poland keep Warsaw as its capital instead of returning it to Krakow in the 20th century?

My recollection is that Krakow was Poland's capital for much of the Middle Ages, having moved there from Thorn(?) shortly after 1000 A.D. My understanding is that Warsaw, a newer city, became Poland'...
18
votes
6answers
450 views

Good online sources for historical maps

I am looking for good online sources for historical maps, specifically the late medieval period (but other periods would be interesting as well). While there are many historical maps out there, few ...
53
votes
8answers
13k views

Why did the USSR give Crimea to Ukraine?

In 1954 Soviets transferred Crimea from Russian Soviet Republic to Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Why is this strange? The whole act, at least officially, was meant to be "a gift", a token of friendship....
41
votes
13answers
14k views

Why did Hitler declare war on the USA?

Since there had not been any offensives launched by either side against the other, why declare war just because Japan had attacked the USA?
25
votes
12answers
20k views

Why is Dravidian history ignored? [closed]

Whenever I read an article on ancient Indian history, I see people only writing about the Indus valley civilization and the Aryans. But what about Dravidians? Didn't they exist even before the Aryans ...
69
votes
12answers
14k views

Why bother attacking castles at all? Why not go around?

Castles were designed to hold people, weapons, and supplies to survive a siege. They were well-defended. Taking one could easily be a long, bloody struggle. Why attack at all? Most castles I've seen ...
34
votes
6answers
7k views

Why did Europe not see Roman-era numbers of men participating in battles until the 17th century?

Typical decisive battles in Roman times involve 4+ legions - around 20,000 men + auxiliaries giving a total of about 30,000 men, on the Roman side only. Battles in even the late middle ages and early ...
27
votes
4answers
8k views

How did the Roman state verify citizenship?

How were ancient Roman citizens identified, and how did officials make sure that their identity wasn't fake? I.e., did they maintain some kind of citizens registry, or did they have some kind of ...
45
votes
15answers
9k views

Has there ever been a truly multi-sided war?

I was playing StarCraft the other night, and it occurred to me: that game series portrays effectively a 3-way war, where all three factions are fighting the other two with equal ferocity. Obviously, ...
29
votes
3answers
2k views

Why were there no religious wars in Poland?

During the 16th and 17th centuries, there were many religious wars in Europe. In countries, were it was very close to Rome (like Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italian states), they did not occur. In ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Why did modern “Romania” remain the most “Roman” part of the Balkans?

The so-called "Romanians" are the Vlachs who inhabited the territory just north of the Danube in Roman times, and today. Wallachia (home of the Vlachs), represented the outer limit or Roman expansion. ...
44
votes
11answers
12k views

Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

The Germans had some of the best machine guns and tanks during World War II. Likewise, the Americans had a big advantage with the M1 Garand (which Patton famously called "The greatest battle implement ...
32
votes
6answers
7k views

How did people travel to remote islands like Easter Island?

Easter Island is extremely remote, being thousands of kilometers from its nearest neighbor. How did people get there safely, and how did they even know it was there?
22
votes
2answers
1k views

How did cities operate in medieval times?

Modern fiction is often filled with fantasy versions of the Middle Ages, from Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, and everything in between, but how did the reality of this trope operate? There ...
20
votes
2answers
784 views

What was the structure of religious beliefs among the Arabic peoples before conversion to Islam?

Other questions on this topic has addressed the pre-Islamic religious beliefs in broad detail, including the conversion of near-Arab cultures. What was the specific nature of the pre-Islamic ...
75
votes
9answers
15k views

Why did archery not make a comeback when armor was phased out in the 18th century?

Even if we account for the argument that it is much more tedious to train a man to use a bow than a musket, why then did the arbalest not make a comeback? Its effective range - reportedly at 300m, is ...
44
votes
10answers
11k views

Why didn't France and UK invade Germany September 3rd 1939?

On September 3rd 1939, when UK and France declared war on Germany, both ordinary Polish people and government officials became enthusiastic. There were spontaneous demonstrations of support for the ...
44
votes
9answers
41k views

Why did the Western Roman Empire collapse but not the Eastern Roman Empire?

There were several crises in the “late” Roman Empire. For once, the crisis of the Republic, which resulted in the creation of Principat and later Dominat. This crisis may be related to the fact that ...
41
votes
6answers
9k views

Why didn't Great Britain give the colonies voting rights?

The thirteen colonies rebelled after "No Taxation without Representation", and Great Britain probably could have appeased them for quite some time the same way they did Canada (who stayed with Great ...
35
votes
11answers
10k views

Why, in the US, is Japanese brutality ignored compared with the Nazi brutality in WW2?

Instead of accepting too much of what I have read in my textbooks, I have read up a bit about WW2 on my own and have always pondered, why in the USA is the brutality and actions of the Japanese during ...
31
votes
2answers
2k views

Who believed the earth was flat?

Christians are sometimes mocked for having once believed the earth was flat. However, the only references I can find are Lactantius in the beginning of the 4th century, and Copernicus, who says ...
22
votes
6answers
12k views

Why was the Treaty of Versailles so harsh?

When Germany signed the armistice in the first world war, they were still (technically) in a decent bargaining position. Germany still had troops in France and Belgium There were no enemy forces in ...
45
votes
6answers
33k views

Why is Christopher Columbus credited for “discovering” America?

Even if we ignore the millions of native Americans who lived in the continent before Columbus "discovered" it, even if we ignore other civilizations (eg: Polynesians, Phoenicians, Chinese, Arabs, etc.)...
34
votes
10answers
3k views

Are there confirmed cases where a country changed its language without being conquered?

I thought about this question and wondered: Are there any known cases where a country switched to a different language other than because of being conquered? If some country ever did this I would be ...
31
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped when a woman is getting married?

Haven't seen anything online, even after googling. Wikipedia seems to only list the countries that support the practice, but offers no history. Why is it that the maiden name is traditionally dropped ...
24
votes
2answers
990 views

When did the term “Nationality” first come into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? By ethnicity?

When was the term "Nationality" first came into use? How did ancient civilizations refer to themselves? When we refer to Ancient Civilizations, did they consider themselves a nation in the modern ...

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